Juan Moreno-Cruz is an Assistant Professor in the School of Economics. He has a PhD in Economics from the University of Calgary and a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Los Andes, in Bogota, Colombia. Moreno-Cruz's research focuses on the interaction of energy systems, technological change and climate policy. Moreno-Cruz has investigated how technologies designed to modify the climate affect the strategic interaction among nations. Currently, he is developing a new set of theoretical and empirical tools to study energy-system transitions in order to inform energy and environmental policy. Moreno-Cruz work is at the intersection between applied theory and public policy.
Q: What drew you to focus on energy?
I have always been interested in big questions. It doesn't get any bigger than energy. Energy is at the core of all economic activity and the majority of events in history are related to energy, and energy transitions. We need to consider the role of energy in the economy in order to understand how we can move 1 billion people out of poverty while maintaining the environment in check. This difficult trade-off between development and environmental stewardship drove me to focus on energy.
Q: What sets energy apart from other industries?
All other industries rely on the energy industry. The energy industry encompasses all other industries; even the more advanced industries rely on a clean, reliable supply of electricity.
Q: What do you see as the most pressing change needed to drive clean energy innovation?
We need to account for the full costs of using energy. This includes all the environmental impacts associated to with energy use. For this we need to price those impacts via a tax or cap and trade system.
Q: What role does science and technology play in guiding these changes?
Social sciences are indispensable to understand human behavior and how technology interacts with society. Understanding the socio-economic agents that affect energy outcomes is of great importance. Similarly, we need to develop a better understanding of how society responds to new technologies and how these technologies are adopted. By increasing this understanding, technologies will be able to provide solutions that are actually implementable.
Q: Most promising shift in U.S. energy policy? Globally?
I do not see a promising shift in U.S. energy policy. I see, however, a promising shift in the energy industry. The energy industry is slowly but surely moving towards an understanding of their role in causing and dealing with environmental problems. This will, in turn, permeate the policy area and induce better energy and environmental policy.
Q: If you weren't teaching or conducting research, what would you be doing?
I cannot imagine myself doing something else; except, probably, playing lead guitar in a rock band.